Police were alerted to a die-in at Grand Central Terminal organized by Black Lives Matter by spying on its leaders’ text messages, documents show.
Undercover NYPD officers infiltrated Black Lives Matter protesters in Grand Central Terminal so deeply that they received text messages from the group’s leaders, papers show.
New documents obtained from the NYPD through a lawsuit over surveillance of the gatherings in November 2014 and January 2015 show text messages circulated among a group of police officers — that were meant for a small group of protest organizers.
The papers, obtained by the Daily News, were first reported by The Guardian.
One of the texts undercover NYPD officers received.
"Die In Grand Central 8 p.m.," one text reads.
"Die in & community convergence at Grand Central. FYI stock up on FREE earplugs – avail every night," another reads.
Black Lives Matter protesters demonstrate inside Grand Central Station on the fourth anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s death in this 2016 file photo.
One of the protesters, Keegan Stephan, said the surveillance has a chilling effect on law-abiding protests protected by the First Amendment.
"The disclosures show undercover officers blending into groups as small as seven protesters, and having access to detailed information about protest plans that was never shared beyond a small group of organizers. It makes me think that some of these undercover officers were deeply embedded in our groups and that they were infiltrating our social networks, not just attending public demonstrations," Stephan said in a release.
Another text message obtained by the NYPD.
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Manuel Mendez ordered the release of the papers in February. The NYPD had unsuccessfully argued that disclosure of the information would interfere with law enforcement work.
Attorneys on the case say the NYPD may have been in violation of guidelines restricting surveillance of First Amendment activity.
"Black Lives Matter is a political critic of the NYPD, and undercover infiltration of BLM is political action by the NYPD. The documents uniformly show no crime occurring, but NYPD had undercovers inside the protests for months on end as if they were al Qaeda. This is not law enforcement, it is NYPD acting politically while wearing guns, and using the authority and secrecy the NYPD is granted as political weapons," attorney David Thompson said.